We’ve been fans of Valiant’s new take on Faith since her miniseries debuted, and a huge part of that success is due to rising star writer Jody Houser.
The first part of Faith #5 focuses on the main storyline, as Faith has finished dealing with the aftermath of her weirdo-ass date with Archer at a con and watching her double die. She’s a bit shaken up, a bit more introspective, but thank God for Houser, whose pop culture asides are beyond pitch perfect.
Houser takes a page from recent entertainment news with a major plot of a young starlet whose racy phone pictures were hacked and exposed, her public perception in ruin, and who has resorted to group auditions. She runs out in tears after all the shit-talking gets to her, and she encounters a creepy black cat who speaks to her, and somehow knocks at every other person at the audition.
Faith then discovers that not only is Project Rising Spirit getting in on the action of tracking down the tainted actress, but that the weird cat is also after Faith. When Zephyr is tracking down Zoe (the actress) in the mall, she encounters the strange feline who sends her into a crazy fantasy sequence (as per usual, illustrated gloriously by Marguerite Sauvage), and then into a battle with a strangely powered Zoe.
The artwork by Meghan Hetrick is great in this issue, as she perfectly captures the barely-contained emotions of the downtrodden Zoe, as well as the facial expressions of all the other characters. Her work has a Babs Tarr-meets-Phil Noto-by-way-of-Adam Warren feel to it, making all the panels easily accessible and able to convey a lot of story in each one. The colors from Andrew Dalhouse further emphasize Hetricks' expressions and lend a lot to the progression of sequences.
Next up in the issue is the story that graces the cover: Faith meets Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Suffice it to say, I’ve got election fatigue. News of it is everywhere, and I’m sick to death of both candidates, so I wasn’t too excited about this story. Thankfully, industry legend Louise Simonson (who created Apocalypse) pens a tale that doesn’t focus solely on Mrs. Clinton, but instead presents politics not just as this icky, stupid thing that divides friends and creates a cloud of fear, but as an active thing that anyone can influence for the better.
Pere Perez and the aforementioned Andrew Dalhouse provide sharp, believable art, and Simonson is supremely on-point for what could have been a forced, uncomfortable story. Instead, it’s a bit more encouraging and uses politics as a frame for a superhero narrative. It’s a job very well done by Valiant.
The last story is told by Valiant bulwark Rafer Roberts, and it’s a good ‘un: Faith foils a late-night burglary of a weapons cache despite the fact that she’s been superhero-ing for far too long without a break. She wants help, she wants an end to 18 hours of on-duty heroics, and she wants to finish this capture quickly. It’s not until the baddies are corralled that things get supremely interesting, though.
In an adjacent office, Faith discovers a young girl tucked away and crying. The girl had been drawing pictures of Faith, and begins to explain why the hell a tiny blonde girl is on site during a high-tech weapons heist: her uncle, one of the robbers, has kidnapped her, and wanted to use her mental psiot powers to hurt people. He says she can never be a hero because she’s a monster with the powers only to hurt, unlike her idol Faith.
This heart-breaking scene is rendered perfectly by Colleen Doran, and the reader can’t help but feel a flood of sympathy for the girl. Faith does what she does best here: using her own positivity and uplifting views on life to put the kid at ease, and then delivers her back to her parents. It’s a great way to finish off a comic, and it left a great feeling resonating after a hefty 48-pages.
Faith has been a blessing for Valiant, as has Houser, Roberts, and the rest, and they’re all shining here. Each story leads the reader down an innovative narrative that’s familiar, yet presented in a new way that strikes an emotional chord. Don’t be dissuaded from buying this book by your pre-conceived political biases, or from your proclivity to not buying something without rippling muscles. This is a quality book well worth your money.